Opinion — 15 September 2017

In a world tearing itself apart, it is often too easy to throw your hands up in frustration and let yourself run from the conflict or to respond with violence. After Sept. 11, 2001, we came together as a nation and did the one thing we knew best — we singled out a minority in our country, Muslims, and started a war. Not necessarily one of our better moments in history, and these issues continue to reverberate in the new world we have created.

After the many terror attacks around the world of this past decade, many of us were scared. We decided on a worldview, and we stuck to it no matter what the evidence showed us to the contrary.

We have allowed ourselves to become indoctrinated into the same beliefs as Al-Qaeda, Isis and other terrorist groups — that the world would be better off without the people who don’t agree with us.

We are no less radical than the extremists we say we want to destroy unless we are willing to accept and embrace our opposites. We must try to understand the many cultures and ideas that run through our society, or we shall inevitably start suppressing the many differences in our nation and forsake the multiculturalism that makes this country so great.

Without a willingness to discuss politics, culture, race or religion, we cannot unite. We see our political opposites as “snowflakes” or “deplorables” and dismiss each other as subhuman.

We talk about race and shut down conversations by calling each other racist or too sensitive. Guess what? We ARE racist AND too sensitive. We shouldn’t consider being racist as an on or off switch in the mind. It’s a collection of preconceived notions that by educating each other, we can overcome. We can learn that sensitivity has nothing to do with intelligence. It’s all part of how we view the world through how much we know about it.

Allowing ourselves to become comfortable in our own views and beliefs has finally led to this inevitable conclusion: Our communities are so polarized that they would rather hit each other than just talk things out.

It is often thought that our political opposites must be unintelligent, but that’s about as inaccurate as Bill Clinton saying he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

The real truth is that many of us have been lied to in many different ways. Our Facebook feeds, Twitter streams, talk show hosts and even our comedy programs all spout a polarizing view of the world that is simply not correct. These mediums gain our attention by marketing to us and making us into a part of a much bigger political machine that feeds us ideals and facts which when held up to the scrutiny of evidence all fall apart.

People say they don’t trust the media telling them the facts that conflict with their views, but often that’s not what they don’t trust —we the people don’t trust the corporate entities trying to sell the media to us.

So whether you put on your battle clothes and strike fear into the hearts of your enemies or step out of your comfort zone and learn to embrace those you would rather oppose, that’s up to you. Just know that one will lead to you being part of the problem, and one will lead you to being part of the solution. If you can’t tell which is which, then God help us all if you get on a plane next September 11th.

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Rachel Hanna

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